2011-01-27

the Godfather of Fitness


It's always sad when a 'great' person dies. Someone who has contributed a lot to society; affecting how people live, think and get along in life. And to be honest, I feel each time we lose one of these guys or gals there is no one to replace them.

It's not as if they are replaceable but there are very few people with the depth, insight and background of some of these 'greats' today. I suppose it's all relative but when Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, the Ashtanga Guru, passed away this was a loss. The same goes for the more recent departure of Jack LaLanne.

A lot of LaLanne's messages dealt with getting out of your rut, stopping feeling tired, learning to become happier and generally striving for all you can be. He said he worked out like he was running for the Mr. America contest. It is rare to encounter such people who possess such drive and energy. A lot of times people can really be the reverse; wet rags! And probably not even aware of how down they are.

Since his death there have been a lot of reviews on his life. An interesting comment was on how he changed the way people looked at exercise but he did not change their bodies. Apparently there are more obese people in the US than ever before! I hazard to guess that he did not change their bodies because he did not change their minds.

The age-old understanding according to Yogis and Buddhists is that mind controls body. If people are still working on themselves physically then it is only knee-deep (so to speak). Changing your body will ultimately involve changing your mind.

I believe this is 2000 per cent true. However, I don't think many people understand what this actually means. It does not mean that because you have a stocky build or short legs that suddenly you will have the legs of a run-way model. It means you will CHANGE your perception of your body. And this, people, changes your life!

A good example is people who are a bit overweight but look great. Yes, they do and they hide the extra tummy flab really, really well. My ex-partner or boyfriend (or whatever you want to refer to him as) was once upon a time quite overweight. Because of his air of self-confidence he did not appear to be. He looked good.

So there is a living example of what I am talking about!

How do you change your mind? The only way I know that is legal and free is by learning to meditate. No amount of yogasana will ultimately have this same effect. How can I make such a bold statement? Because I have exhausted asanas and still never learned to benefit from meditation. Maybe hard to believe but it was the case back in the early 2000's.

Today, it is popular for people to talk of meditation-in-motion and doing this while in a posture. But without being rude this is not correct. They are 2 different things and they should not be confused.

It is right you can meditate while in motion but it should not be confused with a formal sit-down session of meditation. These are 2 different conversations. It's like talking while walking and not talking while walking. Or better yet, sitting down for a meal with yourself versus standing up and eating.

How to meditate and why? I'll write about this in another post. I will add that many years ago I had a student who encouraged me to PUSH mediation as much as I do the asana practice. However, my experience has been you can lead someone to it but you cannot do it for them. In other words, I can become the great cheer-leader for meditation, but ultimately people have to make these decisions for themselves in understanding the great benefit.

For now, I want to pay homeage to Jack LaLanne; losing a 'great' is always a loss for everyone.

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The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


ME

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Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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